So almost a month late I’m reviewing an album that caught the eye of the editor here. I’ve taken a break from summarily dismissing everything put under my nose as “too mainstream,” since this guy is on bandcamp, with no label and only himself to do his hyping. That’s underground as fuck, so here I am to break this thing down.
A Far Off Horizon was produced by one guy alone (presumably in his bedroom, but who knows), just like all the other breakout chillwave (circa ’09 or so). A promising start, as a lot of newer chillwave has been taken over by labels and producers, recorded in modern studios, losing a bit of the rough around the edge quality that was arguably one of the selling points. SO Mkaio gets some points there, even though it wasn’t really his choice to do it in this fashion.
The music itself, while very well structured and written, is a bit of a different story. I hate to make a sweeping generalization about an entire genre or an entire group of people, but here goes: if you liked chillwave before, you are going to like this stuff. If you’re not sold on chillwave, this album isn’t going to convince you of its merits. While the music is finely written and produced well enough, there’s nothing about the content that will make you say “I haven’t heard anything like that before.” And while you can argue that chillwave as a whole has never done that, I’d point out a few albums that have done that for me personally. But, “A Far Off Horizon” wouldn’t be on that (very short) list.
Not quite on the “cream of the crop” tier, but a very good first effort and deserves to be put in the “silver medal” tier along with artists such as MillionYoung, Blackbird Blackbird, and Brothertiger. And much better than the inconsistent performers like Small Black or Work Drugs. I’d give Mkaio a solid three Halls out of five Oates. And I’d also advise all y’all Hipster Jews out there to keep an eye out for his sophomore release, whenever that might be.